Geek goddess: Mona Lisa with moustache, gun and dogFebruary 1st, 2011 - 9:42 am ICT by IANS
By Madhusree Chatterjee
New Delhi, Feb 1 (IANS) Mona Lisa, the 16th century muse of Italian artist Leonardo Di ser Piero da Vinci, is fodder for neo-contemporary geek art even 500 years after the eponymous painting was created.The wife of the Florentine silk merchant, Lisa del Giocondo, made famous by Vinci’s painting, reigns on the collective aesthetic imagination with her enigmatic smile in a variety of avatars that ranges from the hairy, masculine, clownish, aggressive to the surreal.
For instance, a hairy bronze public avatar of Mona Lisa, sculpted by top Indian contemporary artist Subodh Gupta, will be exhibited at the Southwood Gardens in Piccadilly by London-based gallery Hauser & Wirth.
The bronze sculpture is a retake of Marcel Duchamp’s arty spoof “L.H.O.O.Q”, which was conceived by the futuristic designer-artist in 1919 in what he described as “ready-made” - which takes everyday utility and discarded objects and transforms them to artistic memorabilia.
In “L.H.O.O.Q”, the discarded object was a postcard of Mona Lisa on which Duchamp drew a moustache and a beard in pencil and added the caption.
Gupta said he first saw Duchamp’s “Mona Lisa” at the Tate Modern in 2008. He said he “liked the humour” in the geeky interpretation of Mona Lisa. For Gupta, the sculpture is the beginning of a “new dialogue with renaissance classical masterpieces in the modern context”.
The 45-year-old Indian artist is known for his reality compositions, stainless steel kitchen utensil sculptures, photography, video and performance art.
“It is interesting to see a different perspective of Mona Lisa by a new contemporary artist. I have seen the Mona Lisa. It is symbolic of the highly-evolved impressionism in classical European art and any artistic comment on it is always exciting,” Sunaina Anand, of the Delhi-based Art Alive Gallery, told IANS.
In 2007, a bunch of computer geeks made a splash on the internet with their “Mona Lisa in MS or Microsoft paint”.
The graphically-generated computer image of Mona Lisa was detailed given the fact that it was painted with a new computer app (application) known as Brushes, a natural media painting tool for iPhones and iPads using touchscreen technology.
Brushes has given birth to a new genre of digital artistic sub-culture with art galleries devoted to it on the internet.
Now, imagine Mona Lisa profiled in nails.
In 2010, a builder posted a three-minute capsule of how he etched a silhouette of Mona Lisa on a canvas at his construction site with his semi-automatic nail gun - a construction device shaped like a gun which shoots nails at wooden planks to board them together.
The “Nail Gun Mona Lisa”, created with more than 500 nails, was an instant hit, setting off a debate on whether it was feasible to capture the lady with a nail.
A section of Mona Lisa buffs said “the artist had drawn a computer profile of Mona Lisa on the canvas so that he could target his nails in place.”
The nail gun artist, as the builder described himself, denied “any pre-nail impression of Mona Lisa”. He said he drew it on the spur of the moment.
Two rather funny versions of Mona Lisa are also the themes of a range of cheeky geek art known as “Mona Lisa with Gun” and “Mona Lisa with Bichon Frise” (a small furry pet dog), where the lady is shown holding a small automatic gun and a dog.
The motif appears on a variety of kitsch art accessories like the stainless water bottle, boxer briefs, women’s panties, pet bowl, T-shirts and jackets and mugs - sought after by the arty-types.
The Mona Lisa accessory range was created by the US-based art merchandising store Cafe Press in 1999.
Many more retooled images of Mona Lisa, including one with a cracked visage, are galore in the fast-changing world of kitsch art.
(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Tags: bronze sculpture, chatterjee, classical masterpieces, computer geeks, contemporary artist, different perspective, enigmatic smile, european art, everyday utility, geek goddess, indian artist, italian artist, kitchen utensil, leonardo di ser piero da vinci, lisa del giocondo, marcel duchamp, mona lisa, silk merchant, stainless steel kitchen, tate modern